S-300 mobile missile complex 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
MOSCOW- Russia is training Syrian military officers on anti-aircraft missile systems but not yet on the advanced S-300 system, Interfax news agency reported on Wednesday, citing a Russian military source.
Russia has said it will resist pressure to scrap a contract to sell Damascus S-300s, which Western governments say could prolong Syria's civil war, but President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that S-300 missiles had not yet been sent to Syria.
Syrian officers are among about 250 foreigners from 19 countries being trained by a Russian military academy that is responsible for air defense weapons, Interfax cited an unidentified source as saying.
"Training of Syrian officers under the S-300 program is not yet taking place," the source was quoted as saying. He said most of the Syrian officers had arrived before the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011.
The S-300 is designed to shoot down planes and missiles at 200 km (125 mile) ranges. It could enhance Syria's Russian-supplied defenses against air attacks by Israel, or by outside powers enforcing any future no-fly zone over the country.
Some Western diplomats have suggested Moscow is using the systems as a bargaining chip to try to amplify its voice in efforts to end more than two years of bloodshed in Syria.